Trailside air: compressor or CO2 can?


New member
Howdy, all.

As the title suggests I'm looking for suggestions/pros/cons for portable air options. I have a buddy with a CO2 can in his J33p and he likes that setup. But I've also spotted this TJM compressor over at Slee that looks pretty handy.

My thoughts: the CO2 can is smaller, taking up less cargo space. The compressor doesn't need to be replenished like a discharged CO2 can does.

I don't have - and don't really plan to get - a dual batter setup. I don't plan to run a winch or an on-board fridge, at least not for quite a long time.

So thoughts from the tribe? For those running C02 cans to air-up after a run, what do you really like about it? Anything you don't like about it?

For those running compressors, same question.

As an aside I have factory lockers so don't otherwise perceive the need for an under-hood compressor.


Skids HJ61

we dont use CO2 bottles here in Australia, everyone runs air compressors.

To my mind, a compressor is the way to go. Leave the vehicle running for a few minutes if your worried about flattening your single battery. The down side I see to CO2 bottles is paying to refill them everytime and if you have a half or quarter bottle, you'd have to refill it anyway before your trip and you effectively loose what ever was in the old your paying for CO2 that you'll not use

If this doesnt bother you, then its costs v cost situation. would getting refilled bottles be cheaper than buyig a compressor over the years you intend to need it ??

just my 2c worth

SoCal Tom

I've used both, the Co2 takes up more space, and you are never sure when it will run out so you end up carrying an air compressor as a spare. Eventually I went with an air compressor.

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It's simple and fast and I get it filled for $15. I have a small cheap compressor that I for ever as a backup. I have seen to many compressor lines fail from the heat and leave the person asking to use the co2


I have had both and I love the CO2 for its speed and simplicity. On my last TJ I ran my ARB's off of it as well as filling tires.

I could easily get 20 tires (35's) up to road pressure. I went with a bit of a DIY kit. I purchased a tank from a beverage supply place, I can trade it out got a full tank for 10 bucks. I purchased a regulator and I am in the whole thing for about 150.00.

I just built another set up with a 20lb bottle for my f250.



New member
No one has mentioned a belt-driven compressor yet. I did a York setup probably 10 years ago and haven't had to touch it since. Works with the flip of a switch. Reliable air sure is handy. Fill tires, run air tools, fill your air mattress... I've been planning on an air powered blender, just haven't gotten around to it yet. :)


Quality air compressors last a long time and they are always ready for work.If you are airing tyres down regularly ,then a co2 canister maybe a good but you have to remember to refill them.
Having a good compressor stored away in the vehicle is fool proof.
My compressors nearly 10 years old and it will still inflate 4 x 33 inch tyres from 18 psi to 45 psi in 15 mins or less.

All these gadgets have their good and bad points


Expedition Leader
I have both in my trucks. I like CO2 for its speed of filling tires and the ability to run air tools for quick trail repairs.


I keep a 20lb CO2 beverage tank in my work truck. I rarely need it but I have the room and it is always ready to go. I use an ac conversion in my Jeep in addition to keeping the ac for cooling. A CO2 tank takes up too much space in my Jeep.

LR Max

Local Oaf
I've got a 10lb C02 tank. I had many concerns that you have.

First off the biggest disadvantage to C02 is being able to get it refilled. I've found a place near my office that will refill for $10. I just go over during lunch and get it filled. No big deal. Before when I lived elsewhere, it was a huge pain. Fortunately with the growing popularity of in home beverage coolers, C02 can be more widely found.

With my C02 tank, I'm doing a few things. First, my set of 235/85/16 tires. I'm typically airing up from 20 psi to 30~33 psi. No biggie. Lasts a long time doing this. Second set of tires is 34x9.5x15 TSLs from 8~10 psi to 30 psi with occasional top up. This obviously kills it a lot faster but still I can fill up multiple times before my bottle even thinks about getting low.

On my last trip, my bottle was at 500 psi. Typically this means that the time is near. Still I was able to fill up my 235s three times and re-set and fill a tire on the trail. Overall its pretty good.

If you plan on making it back to civilization after a week/weekend trip, then C02 is great. However if you are going to off road cross country or go to other countries, then the air compressor is better.

The benefit of C02 is that its quiet, quick, and portable. Being able to take it out of my truck and take it up the trail to the vehicle blocking the route is extremely beneficial. Also resetting tires on the trail is huge. Last outing I got mud in the bead (first time for my smaller tires, was kinda weird). But I was able to knock the tire off the bead, clean the bead, and remount. Took about 15 minutes. No problem.

Also I enjoy C02 for on-road needs. A few times I've had to do a parking lot tire repair/swap for someone. Being able to throw that in the trunk and go is great if I don't have the time to prepare an air bottle. Or in the morning if I just need a quick shot of air for something. No need to crank out the loud as crap garage compressor and wait for it to reach pressure.

IMO, unless you are trying to fill up the tires for you and everyone else in your group twice a day for an entire week, the C02 will work just fine and be convenient.


Well, you could always carry a bottle of nitrous around if you wanted to get in a little dentistry practice on the road...